With the critical November 7th election just two months away, the IAM launched an innovative RallyAround.Us online campaign to galvanize voters in key gubernatorial races in 36 states. “Governors can have a significant impact on economic issues important to our members,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “With the ‘RallyAround.Us’ campaign, we’re asking our members and their families to get involved and help elect governors who can make a real difference in our lives, and in our wallets.”
The special ‘RallyAround.Us’ website gives IAM members the chance to add their names to a virtual wall where signers pledge to vote in the November election and hold the politicians they elect accountable.
The ‘RallyAround.Us’ website is part of the JUICE campaign to focus attention on key races for governor. The IAM has identified five pocketbook issues important to Machinists members: Jobs; Utility rates; Insurance premiums; Commuter woes and Educational equity (JUICE).
IP Tom Buffenbarger addressed more than 3,000 firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical personnel gathered in Toronto, Canada for the 48th Biennial convention of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF).
In remarks interrupted numerous times for applause, Buffenbarger hailed the firefighters and all union members for the shining example they set in the hours and days after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
“What set our union brothers and sisters apart that day was the direction they moved in – toward the smoke and fire of total chaos,” said the IP. “As tens of thousands of New Yorkers streamed away, it was union members who fought their way to the pile and created a semblance of order in the midst of chaos. They demonstrated to the world that blue collar courage knows no limits, that the real heroes often live right next door and that union solidarity – brothers and sisters – can bring out the best in all of us.”
The IAM provided the firefighters at the convention with DVD copies of ‘Everyday Heroes,’ the documentary produced by the Machinists Union to salute the rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts by union members in the wake of September 11.
Boeing’s recent announcement that it will shut down production on its C-17 military cargo aircraft lines after mid-2009 could affect about 5,500 jobs in California, Missouri, Georgia and Arizona directly related to C-17 production. About 700 companies in 42 states provide parts and services for the C-17 program and employ about 25,000 workers nationwide.
Without more firm orders, the current C-17 backlog from international customers and funding in the 2007 budget for up to three aircraft will only keep production lines going until mid-2009.
“In an unstable global environment, airlift capability is crucial to our national defense,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “The C-17 is one of the most successful military aircraft programs ever. Congress should fund more C-17 production to ensure we have the planes and the means to build them should a national crisis occur. We must not let the production skills in this crucial aerospace capacity be disbanded.”
Click here to send a message to Congress to fund the C-17 program beyond 2009.
IAM leaders in Canada declared the recent wage arbitration award for IAM members employed at Air Canada Technical Maintenance Operational Support and Finance Units is well short of expectations.
“I believe the award released by Arbitrator Don Munroe seriously undervalued the contributions made by our members during the restructuring of Air Canada,” said District Lodge 140 President and Directing General Chairperson Jim Coller.
Under provisions of the Company Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) signed in 2004, unions representing Air Canada employees, including the IAM, could enter wage re-opener talks with the company in 2006. The intent was to allow workers to recover some of their wages lost during the restructuring, once the airline had returned to profitability. Air Canada has continually broke passenger load factor records since emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2004 and has become profitable despite rising fuel prices.
However, following two days of bargaining in May 2006, the company made it clear it had no intention of sharing this success with the workers who made this profitability possible. The result is the arbitrator’s award which is final and binding and provides wage increases of 1 percent effective July 2006, .5 percent January 1, 2007, 1.75 per cent July 1, 2007 and 1.75 percent July 1, 2008.
“Mr. Munroe saw fit to exceed the previous award granted by arbitrator Michel Picher to CAW members at Air Canada, but it’s still not enough,” said Coller.
The IAM is the largest union at Air Canada with more than 11,000 members employed as mechanics, ramp personnel, cargo agents and clerical and finance workers.
The IAM hosted shipbuilding workers from around the world in its continuing effort to build new strategies for representing IAM members in the global economy. This week, delegates from Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, Finland, Turkey and the U.S. gathered at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center to discuss worker issues including outsourcing, safety, workers’ rights and the misuse of contingent workers in the shipbuilding and repair industry.
The meeting was held under the auspices of the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), a Global Union Federation based in Geneva, Switzerland. The IAM is an active affiliate of the IMF and IAM President Buffenbarger serves on its Executive Committee.